It has become the case that over the course of the 20th century an ever-increasing number of tribunals have come into existence alongside the ordinary civil courts, dealing with a wide variety of disputes, usually between the citizen and the state. Although tribunals do not adjudicate in all civil matters, some family law matters in particular, they are considered to provide an informal and relatively inexpensive mechanism for the resolution of disputes. The vast numbers of tribunals and their importance have increased so significantly that it is no longer justifiable to regard them merely as an appendage to the ordinary courts of law, to ease the pressure off them, but rather as an integral part of the English Legal System.
[...] Employment tribunals were originally established as industrial tribunals with a somewhat limited role by the Industrial Training Act 1964, since when their jurisdiction has extended considerably, notably under the employment legislation of the 1960s and 70s. Their composition, jurisdiction and procedure are now regulated by the Employment Relations Act 1999. Employment tribunals now have the power to determine over fifty different types of complaint arising from the employment relationship. They are supported by the Employment Tribunals Service, which is an executive agency of the Department of Trade and Industry, and operates from 34 permanent offices across Britain to accommodate the needs of employers and employees. [...]
[...] Since the majority of domestic tribunals are not presided over by a judge, or besides matters involving the legal profession, even a legally qualified person, it is essential that the proceedings are conducted observing a substantial degree of procedural fairness. Two basic principles of natural justice are applied: that the person making the decision should be independent and unbiased, so as person should be a judge in his own case'; and also that both sides must be given a fair hearing. [...]
[...] Subsequent to the Franks Committee Report most tribunals, though not all, are required to provide reasons behind their decisions under s10 of the Tribunals and Inquiries Act 1992, therefore where a tribunal has erred in its application of the law, a claimant can apply to the HC for judicial review to have the decision set aside for error of law on the face of the record; publicity, as a lack of openness may be a distinct disadvantage as cases involving general public importance and citizens' rights are not given the publicity and consideration that they may merit; provision of public funding, though tribunals were designed to do away with legal representation, as a consequence of the Franks recommendations, the fact that chairpersons have to be legally qualified has led to an increase in the formality' of tribunal proceedings. [...]
[...] Oliver Franks was established to review tribunals and enquiries, in the wake of the Crichel Down affair, where a piece of land had been compulsorily acquired by a government department, and when it was no longer required, various civil servants then frustrated the attempts of the former owner to repurchase it. Published in 1957, the report accepted that subject to basic principles of openness, requiring where possible the publicity of proceedings and knowledge of the essential reasoning underlying the decisions; fairness in requiring the adoption of a clear procedure which enables parties to know their rights, to present their case fully and to know the case which they have to meet; impartiality, to require the freedom of tribunals from the influence of government departments concerned with the subject matter of their decisions, tribunals should be accepted as an important part of the adjudicative structure. [...]
[...] Though every civil dispute cannot be heard by tribunals, certain family and criminal matters for example, such a high figure is indicative of the increasingly significant role tribunals have to play in the English administrative system. Hence every attempt must de made to further develop tribunals as a more effective and efficient forum for the resolution of civil disputes. Subsequent to the Reviews recommendations, the Lord Chancellor's office revealed the government's intention to institute a new unified Tribunals Service. Thus by combining the administration, it will deliver a more efficient and effective service to the users of tribunals. [...]
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